Fill in the blank: “If every student at my church would _________________, they would grow spiritually and begin impacting their schools and communities.” While we might be tempted to fill-in that blank with things like “go to camp” or even “just show up on Sunday,” I think there is a more obvious answer that’s actually not as difficult to implement as you might think.
I’ll never forget the first time I started reading the Bible on my own. I was 17, and it was the summer before my senior year of high school. That summer radically changed my life. I had recently started attending a new church with a friend. I grew up going to church, but the student pastor at my friend’s church was the first person I ever remember encouraging me to spend time reading the Bible and praying on my own. While there are many elements that made that summer transformative, spending time with God in His Word led to a lifelong practice that continues to shape my heart and life to this day.
My decision to start reading the Bible devotionally on a regular basis was the single most significant step I have taken in my life to take ownership of my spiritual journey, and I think the same is likely true for you and your students. If we really believe that God’s Word is inspired by Him and imbued with His transforming power, imagine what God might do in the hearts of the students at your church if they devoted even just 10 or 15 minutes a day to reading it.
Just reading is not enough
It is important to note that merely reading the Bible is not enough—we need our students to study God’s Word and think carefully about its implications in their lives. Additionally, we don’t want students flipping their Bibles open randomly and reading whatever they happen to stumble upon—we need to train our students how to study the Bible in a way that’s going to help them understand its story and its implications on their daily lives. This is where tools like the Daily Discipleship Guide (the personal study book component of Bible Studies for Life, The Gospel Project, and Explore the Bible) can be a game changer for students. This simple resource gives students 5 days of guided daily devotions in God’s Word and trains students how to get more out of their time in God’s Word.
There are many important elements of discipleship that we want to instill in students—a love for the church, a commitment to mission, and a love for their neighbors. Each of these, however, require that students take ownership of their spiritual growth–guiding students to begin studying the Bible on their own might very well be the first step to seeing them do just that.
Drew Dixon is team leader for Lifeway Students’ ongoing Bible studies. To learn more about our ongoing Bible studies, follow the links above. Find samples, see our product offerings, and purchase print or digital fall Bible study materials for your groups.